How to maintain your car’s value - seven simple steps, from repairs to documentation

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Advice on how maintenance, mileage, documents and customisation can all affect the price you get when you sell your car

The start of September always brings a flurry of activity in the new car market as buyers rush to be among the first to secure the latest registration plate.

This year is a little different as problems in the global supply chain and dealership network are affecting the market but nonetheless plenty of buyers will be looking forward to getting behind the wheel of their new 71-plate car.

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As any new car buyer knows, the minute you drive off the forecourt, your car starts to lose value. Exact depreciation rates vary but expect to see your car drop around 30-40 per cent of its value within the first year.

It’s impossible to completely fight off depreciation but there are ways to make sure your car is worth as much as possible when it’s time to trade it in or sell it on.

With that in mind, we spoke to the the motoring experts at Motor Easy for advice on how to protect the value of your car.

Regular services

Not only does regular vehicle services provide peace of mind for the health of your vehicle, but a full service history is also valuable to a potential new owner and shows that you’ve taken good care of it. An annual service cost is approximately £125 in the UK and it may also pick up any early issues with the car before it becomes an expensive problem to fix.

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Ensure documentation is up to date


As well as regular services, it is advisable to keep all documentation related to the car up to date and kept together in a safe place. You should keep the V5C logbook - which has details about the car, the make, the model, registration number and the registered keeper - the latest MOT certificate, and any insurance documents, plus any warranty documents or receipts for major work. If you’ve misplaced your logbook, it costs £25 to replace a V5C and can be purchased online.

Keep on top of repairs and maintenance

New cars are generally pretty reliable but if your vehicle displays any signs of mechanical or electrical problems, get them addressed quickly. Putting off repairs can end up costing more in the long run if the problem worsens and fixing things quickly and making sure everything is in working order helps preserve your car’s value.

Ensuring that the car’s bodywork is kept in good condition by waxing and polishing regularly can help retain its value (and make it look more attractive when it’s time to sell on). Waxing should be done twice a year as this can also provide an extra layer of paintwork protection. Any small scratches or scuff marks can easily be picked up through daily driving but can be remedied by DIY fixes, and wheel trims or alloys should be cleaned regular to get rid of brake dust and dirt build-up to keep the car looking its best.

Look after the interior of your car

It’s not just the exterior of the car that should be cared for - the interior upholstery, doors and dashboard should all be given some TLC to ensure that it is in top condition. Odours and stains are often unavoidable, especially in a family car, so routinely hoovering the interior of your car thoroughly, updating worn car mats, and adding an air freshener can go a long way in impressing future buyers when they come to inspect the car overall.

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Avoid customisation

If you’re keen to put your stamp on your vehicle with additional elements, try to resist the urge to customise your car too much as this can lower its resale value (and affect your insurance costs). Keep features and details true to the original car make and model to avoid putting off potential buyers. Personalised add-ons may show off your style, but turn off other people.

Keep an eye on mileage

Mileage is often the first on the list of factors that influence a buyer when checking out a car. Comparing the age of the vehicle to its mileage is a good indicator of overall value. Cars with particularly high miles can be considered risky to purchase due to higher wear and tear, which could make it more likely to experience problems and faults. With this in mind, keeping the mileage low may be a good idea - for longer distance travel, consider trains or buses to avoid adding miles to your car.

Sell the car privately

Finally, when it comes to selling your car, it may be worth selling it yourself rather than going through a dealership. By cutting out the middle-man, you’re able to sell the car at market value and avoid car dealer costs. As long as you can provide the logbook with updated documents, full-service history and can show a relatively well looked after car, you’re in a good position to resell directly.

Selling privately can get you a better price than trading in or selling to a dealership Selling privately can get you a better price than trading in or selling to a dealership
Selling privately can get you a better price than trading in or selling to a dealership | Shutterstock

Duncan McClure Fisher, CEO at Motor Easy says: “As we use our vehicles daily, for commuting and family life, it is expected that some maintenance will be required to help retain a car’s value. Taking care of cosmetic repairs on the interior and exterior of the vehicle can go a long way in making your car attractive to buyers when it comes to reselling or trading, plus factors such as keeping mileage low will give a rough indicator of how much longevity the vehicle has and if it is worth the investment from a buyers perspective.”

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